It is no secret that childhood obesity has become a health epidemic in America. Almost one in every three kids in America are obese or overweight (CDC). This puts children at a much higher risk of developing chronic weight related health concerns later in life, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure. First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative Let’s Move, launched in February of 2010, was created to remedy this problem. This initiative is committed to solving the childhood obesity epidemic by returning to a childhood obesity rate of just 5% by 2030. Of course, this task cannot be achieved if our society does not decide to change certain aspects of our way of life. In class, we defined a social movement as having to be uninstitutionalized, a collective commitment, and on behalf of a cause. In my opinion, a social movement is a group of people who are striving and taking steps to achieve a common goal on behalf of a cause. Social movements seek to influence the public and gain support in their fight for their cause. There have been several social movements that have become institutionalized, such as animal rights, however, that does not mean that they are still not seeking change in our society. Plus, social movements can become stronger when they become institutionalized because they can then get funding, media coverage, and organization. While Let’s Move does have institutions supporting its cause, such as the Partnership for a Healthier America; their goal cannot be achieved without the support and participation of the public. The initiative’s common goal is to get the childhood obesity rate down to 5% by 2030; so this is definitely an ongoing social movement. Numerous steps have been drafted in order to achieve this goal. Let’s Move puts a great deal of emphasis on the fact that everyone can help to reduce childhood obesity; including parents, elected officials, schools, chefs, community-based organizations, and private sector companies. On the website for Let’s Move, there are downloadable PDFs for each of the previously mentioned groups, with a plan on how to improve nutrition and physical health. For example, the parent’s guide gives information on how to shop and prepare healthier food, and how to encourage children to be more active. There are many ideas on the website as well, such as how to start a community garden and how to create a school health advisory council.
The artifact I chose is an advertisement with a young boy pictured with a word bubble of him saying “Let’s move hotdogs out of my school lunch”. This particular advertisement is trying to persuade the public to require healthier lunches in schools. There is also the Let’s Move logo pictured in the advertisement. This logo is effective because it is recognizable and ties all the advertisements for the initiative together. When people see the logo, they already have an understanding of what the advertisement will be about. The use of a child in the advertisement is also very persuasive by using pathos. It is one thing if we as adults willingly choose to eat unhealthy food. However, it becomes more controversial when our kids are being fed nutrient poor food in school. The audience that this advertisement is most likely to reach is school officials and parents. Parents who are made aware of the nutrition issues in schools are more likely to appeal to school boards and demand change. In a letter to the President from Melody Barnes, Chair of the Task Force on Childhood Obesity, there is a chapter on healthy food in schools. It outlines a range of actions that parents, schools, community leaders, and governments can take to improve school foods and nutrition environments so they support and foster healthier food choices. A unique aspect of Let’s Move is that in order for it to succeed, it requires the public to actively participate. Unlike some other social movements that may make progress through the passing of a law, the cause of Let’s Move will not be achieved unless our society as a whole takes action. It is indeed an ongoing process that cannot be solved with the mere passing of a law. There have already been several steps taken to achieve the Let’s Move goal. For example, the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans has improved labels on food and menus so that they provide clear information to help make healthier choices for children. Also, charities have been persuaded to help the cause. The Robert Wood Foundation has created a “Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities” initiative which is funding 50 communities to implement strategies to prevent childhood obesity. Let’s Move and the corresponding programs that support it require the public to change their social norms in order to create change in our nation and health of our children. There have already been steps taken, and there are already numerous future steps laid out. In my opinion, that is a perfect example of a social movement.